Reflecting a bit on Activision's recent statements that they would not rule out making a second Black Ops title, I've been left wondering why a comment like this was even necessary. It's obvious that Treyarch is going to make a second Black Ops, just as it's obvious that the Call of Duty franchise will rear its head yet again at the end of the year. This sort of statement is purely for the sake of sensationalism, drawing up a bit of attention to the series just to make sure that everyone knows Activision is still around and ready to make money. However, just pretending for a moment here that Black Ops 2 isn't already in production, wouldn't it be better if Treyarch just dropped the title and moved on to the next CoD? In fact, I think Treyarch has a lot to gain from ruling out Black Ops 2.
First and foremost, what exactly about Black Ops is worth doing over again? The storyline didn't exactly turn many heads - if any at all - and it's not like there were any characters that particularly stuck out. With Call of Duty's most interesting characters, Ghost and Captain Price, caught up who-knows-where in the Modern Warfare limbo, Treyarch would be far better off starting a series with characters that are just as fun and interesting as the late Infinity Ward's. They already know that most of their playerbase will jump to the next title simply for it's multiplayer updates. So, provided they have a team dedicated to creating a more viseral experience, all that's left for Treyarch to consider is what sort of attention they would like to drag in for an offline campaign. If they're going to spend millions of dollars promoting the game through cutscenes and gameplay taken from any titles story mode, the least they could do is have said story be interesting, which is something Black Ops seriously lacked.
Taking this into consideration, a Black Ops 2 would be the worst possible route for Treyarch to take. Perhaps if Activision didn't slap Call of Duty on the front of every single box, I could reason the 'Black Ops' title being stuck on there since not everyone who plays FPS games follows the gaming community well enough to know that both labels equate to the same franchise. Still, I highly doubt that Activision would dare to take a risk like that since there's really no reason to. So why not start fresh? Why not introduce a new character that isn't touring the world in seconds at breakneck speed? Maybe even create some enemies that are recognizeable than just 'angry Cuban' or 'nameless Russian'.
Likewise, it would be a chance for them to hone the multiplayer into something more interesting; perhaps take a step away from the norm and, instead, make adaptive killstreaks that evolve in the same fashion that Black Ops' perks do? Maybe even more weapon customizations than just red-dot sight changes, like perhaps a change in iron-sights or more variety in scopes? Even if a lot of these things are improvements upon the current Call of Duty scheme, customers would expect that Black Ops 2 would be an 'improvement on the first', but starting a whole new franchise could give Treyarch the creative elbow room to actually set a whole new standard for the series. It may even give gamers a bit of faith in the developer, which has done nothing but attempt to replicate Modern Warfare 2 in almost every single way save for a few minor game tweaks.
Perhaps this is even the time for Treyarch to explore a co-op experience, something that Modern Warfare 2 barely touched on and still received a lot of praise. Handling objectives with one or more friends can be a lot of fun, and with Horde modes becoming a popular option for those looking to blast apart something that won't call you names between matches, it wouldn't be a bad feature to consider. Nazi zombies goes part of the way there, but in nature, is quite different to a real co-op experience. If they could hone down an entirely different mode of co-op missions, complete with their own little storylines and objectives, it would make quite a lasting impression on any new iteration of the series, let alone set a new bar for what CoD games should feature out of the box.
It's fair enough to say that no matter which way Treyarch goes, their next game will be a part of the Call of Duty franchise, so exploring the idea of making modern warfare theatre more interesting is the challenge here. Even grounded in a semi-realistic world, there are a lot of possibilities open and provided they make a game that doesn't decide to bleed patriotism and 'secret wars' every second of the way through, I'm sure that fans of the genre will eat it up. After all, CoD has never been about big battles, blowing apart buildings or driving a vehicle. There are no super suits, space invaders, or laser beam weapons. Fans just want multiplayer that will allow them to completely dominate the battlefield with a few good shots and a well placed air strike, and a single player campaign that makes - even just a little - sense. Black Ops only delivered on one of those fronts, and with nothing for fans to particularly attach themselves to, it may be best just to move on.